Carlsbad, Calif. -
Microsoft is looking to create richer sensory experiences in online and physical products.
Speaking at the Dow Jones "All Things Digital" conference, Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer briefly demonstrated a few of the features in the next version of their franchise operating system, Windows 7, including a touch screen that could be used to manipulate photos, trace routes on a map, or paint pictures. The product, due out in 15-18 months, was one of many that will incorporate new forms of communication and interaction, Gates said.
"The role of speech, vision, ink--all of those will be huge," he said, describing a "smart whiteboard" for office use through which many people will access a computer at the same time. "The way you interact with the system will change dramatically."